Escape from Hong Kong - Coxswain Yeung Chuen


Coxswain Yeung Chuen ROC & escape party in Waichow. Photos from the Chan Chak & Ross collections ©


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Coxswain Yeung Chuen ROC

Coxswain Yeung Chuen at Waichow 
  Photo from the Hide collection ©

Coxswain Yeung Chuen 1896-1976

The Chinese Liaison delegation in Hong Kong was led by Admiral Chan Chak who acted as the Chinese-British Commander-In-Chief. Colonel S. K. Yee of the Chinese Secret Service was the Admiral's 2nd in command,  Flag Lt-Commander Henry Heng Hsu was the Adm's ADC, and his Coxswain Yeung Chuen who was his bodyguard and an expert in martial arts.

Colonel S. K. Yee was last seen on the bullet riddled boat in Aberdeen South where the Adm received a bullet in his left wrist. He escaped via Ap Lei Chau Island separately.

MTB 07 Ctrest. Beware the Sting in the Tail 
	Click here to read more









Lieutenant Commander Gandy R. N. (Rtrd) had prevailed against all the odds, and triumphed over adversity to deliver his people back to the UK without loss of life or serious injury after evading capture and escaping from Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941.

PO Prest: "We travelled by cycles, lorries, junks, and donkeys, but mostly we walked. It was a case of march or die"

Buddy Hide: "On the whole, the moral, spirits, and courage of the party was magnificent. I think it was the shear thoughts of beating the Jap's, and the prospects of getting home after three years, some of us four years from home, that made us carry on."




Coxswain Yeung Chuen with Adm Chan Chak as he calmly took to the waves 
	Photo from Maj Goring's  article on the escape © 
	Click here for more information

Adm Chan Chak: "The Danish steer man was the first one shot, then the engineer. MacDougall and others were wounded. Most of the stray bullets had hit the boat and even some had hit my helmet.
Hsu was very wary about me the “One Foot Admiral of 50” swimming such a far distance.
I insisted to carry my own gun and passport. Yeung could not swim and he suggested that we should go back to Hong Kong. “Going back means surrender. I would rather die!” I said.
I took off my life preserver (which was the last one on board) and gave it to Yeung. As I raised my hand, a stray bullet went right through my left hand.
Yeung didn’t say anything anymore, he just jumped into the sea, followed by MacDougall with his wounded back.
YeeSiu-Kee and 2 other British soldiers had to remain on the boat. Yee could not swim and the 2 soldiers were badly wounded.
We were all sitting ducks in the water and non-stop bullets were flying everywhere.
I finally swam ashore on the small island right next to Apliechau."

Left: Photo from Maj Goring's daring-do article on the escape published in 1949. [17]

Along with S.K. were two severely wounded volunteer crew left in the boat, the tall forty seven year old Jutlander, Alexis (Alec) Damsgaard, late Master of the C.S. Store Nordiske, & Sub-Lt J. J. Forster HKRNVR from Northern Ireland. After drifting all night S.K. bribed a junk man to take the two wounded to a hospital.

S.K. Yee: "I put the two others on a junk, asking the fishermen to take them to a hospital on the mainland in Kwangtung Province.
I was kept some days at Pak Sha wan and subsequently I had to return to the church at Apliechau, which was under the Reverend Cheng. I took shelter at the church for some days before making my final escape to Free China."

Of the sixteen who set out on board the launch of "HMS Cornflower" (II), two were killed, one taken prisoner, another made good his own escape while the remaining twelve made it to the MTB's.

S.K, wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes and clutching his bible, sought refuge with the Reverend Cheng in the Harbour Mission Church on Ap Lei Pai opposite Aberdeen. He eventually made his way to Kukong in free China where Chan Chak was still recovering. SK arrived on 5th February 1942 still wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes, only to leave two days later as mysteriously as he had arrived after falling out with Chan over the allegedly missing $40.000 (£2,500 GBP) They remained bitter opponents for the rest of Chan's life.



Admiral Chan Chak & escape party at Waichow 30th Dec 1941
    Run the curser over to identify individuals.
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Supt Bill Robinson
    Click here to read more on Bill Robinson
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Captain Peter Macmillan RA
    Click here to read more on Peter Macmillan

Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Captain Reginold [Freddie] Guest 1st Middlesex
    Click here to read more on Freddie Guest
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Coxswain Yeung Chuen ROC
    Click here to read more on Yeung Chuen 
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Ted Ross, MoI, Colonial Service
    Click here to read more on Rossy
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © David MacDougall, MoI, Colonial Service
    Click here to read more on David MacDougall
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Admiral Chan Chak ROC
    Click here to read more on Admiral Chan Chak
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Major Arthur Goring, Probyns Horse
    Click here to read more on Major Goring
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Sqd-Ldr Max Oxford, RAF
    Click here to read more on Max Oxford
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Holger Christensen, Midshipman
    Click here to read more on Holger Christensen
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Lt-Cmdr Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC
    Click here to read more on Henry Hsu
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection ©



Back row: Supt. Bill Robinson, W. O. William M Wright HKRNVR, Capt. Peter Macmillan R. A., Capt. Reginald Guest 1st Mdsx, Coxswain Yeung Chuen ROC, Ted Ross MoI>

2nd row: David MacDougall MoI, Adm Chan Chak ROC, Major Arthur Goring Probyns Horse, Sq-Ldr. Max Oxford RAF

1st row: Cadet Holger Christensen, Lt-Cmd Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC.

Photo from Chan Chak collection ©





Yeung Chuen, Coxswain to Admiral Chan Chak

Yeung was born in Yeung Uk village in Lung Chuen County, Guangdong Province, in 1896, the son of a Hakka peasant family. Without the benefit of schooling, but as a fit, strong martial arts practitioner he earned his living as a rickshaw puller in Canton. One day he picked up Adm Chan Chak,  who left his briefcase accidentally in the rickshaw. The bag contained a large sum of money, and Yeung waited several hours patiently to return it. Impressed by his honesty, the Adm engaged him as his private rickshaw puller and he eventually became his personal coxswain-bodyguard. The Yeung and Chan families were very close, their children grew up together and flew kites from the roof of the Yeungs’ home. Yeung Chuen’s personal qualities included optimism, loyalty, generosity and kindness.

Yeung Chuen never left the Adm's side, and was holding him when he died unexpectedly after hosting a party at his home on 31st August 1949.

Coxswain Yeung Chuen with Admiral Chan Chak in Kukong  
	Click here to return to the Waichow group photo     
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

Coxswain Yeung Chuen was at Adm Chan Chak's side at all times, being a Martial Arts expert.

Photo from "Escape from the Blooded Sun" by Freddie Guest © which had mistaken Yeung Chuen with Hsu Heng (Henry).

Admiral Chan chak with his Coxswain Yeung Chuen at Kukong 7th January 1942 where Chan was presented with a shield and flowers.









Yeung Chuen and family after the war     
    Photo from Yeung Chuen's collection ©

Yeung Chuen with his family after the war.

Photo from Yeung Chuen's collection ©

David Hide meets Yeung Chuen's descendents in NanAo 2011.   
    Photo from the Hide family collection ©

Descendents of Adm Chan Chak, Coxswain Yeung Chuen, & PO Buddy Hide meet in NanAo in 2011

Photo from the Hide family collection ©

The Coxswain with a Big Heart

Yeung Chuen
(name given at birth: Yeung Chi Ho)

Born:               1896
Died:               1976 age 80

Origin:             New North Village (formerly Yeung Uk Village), Lung Chuen County of Guangdong Province

How he came to work with the Adm

Yeung, as a rickshaw puller, picked up the Adm one day and took him to the anti-narcotics department. The Adm left his briefcase on the rickshaw. Yeung waited outside for several hours and returned the briefcase to the Adm when he came out from the meeting place. The Adm appreciated Yeung’s honesty (there was a large sum of money in the briefcase) and asked if he’s interested in working for someone as a private puller. Yeung then started working for the Adm and eventually became his coxswain.

A simple act of honesty changed Yeung’s life.


The Adm’s family and Yeung’s were very close. Their children grew up together. Yeung’s family lived in a 3-storey building in Canton. The Adm’s twin son, Donald and Duncan used to fly kites with Yeung’s sons at the rooftop.

After the Escape

After the escape party arrived in Hing Ling, at the request of the Adm, Yeung changed into peasant clothing, wore a straw hat, carried a gun with him and walked alone for five days back to Hong Kong to pick up the Adm’s wife and children. On his way, Yeung was stopped by two secret service agents. They pulled off Yeung’s hat, exchanged flashes of acknowledgement, then Yeung was let go.

After Yeung arrived in Hong Kong, the Adm’s wife informed him that she would leave Hong Kong later on with the assistance of a guerilla of the name Leung. Yeung then returned to Hing Ling and reported to the Adm. At that point, the Adm had to leave for Chung King and told Yeung that he could stay in LungChun. Yeung then returned to Hong Kong one more time to pick up his own wife.











meant “Chinese people be strong and steer the country towards the right route.”




Research and web publication by Buddy Hide Jnr ©

The contents of this web site led to a considerable number of escapee families contacting me and now each other, and remains the principle source of contact and private information for the spin off projects that have followed. The personal accounts enabled me to record the complete and true account of this remarkable episode of Sino-British war time co-operation. The information compiled here has directly resulted in a museum exhibition in Hong Kong, a re-enactment of the escape in Hong Kong and China, with a movie drama and documentary in the making.

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